“I understood before, but not like this”, remarked a young student to her teacher as they walked around the graves of a World War I cemetery in Belgium.
These poignant words and understandings of a middle school student might similarly mirror the sentiments of those who visit World War I battlefields and memorials in Belgium and France as part of the Transatlantic Teacher Scholars Program. Among the white marble gravestones of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to the quiet presence of the Douaumont Ossuary, these teachers will explore the question: “How should we remember war?” Words and reactions illuminate the power of place and, more specifically, historic memorials to bring the symbolism and significance of past events to the fore, where the number of real people who were impacted at that point, never mind for generations to come, becomes visible, and themes of honor, competence, courage, sacrifice, commemoration, memory and history are made more meaningful.
We are very pleased to share the announcement of the Transatlantic Teacher Scholars Program in partnership between LEARN NC at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, the School of Education at Virginia Tech, and the American Battle Monuments Commission. This project will engage twelve educators from North Carolina and Virginia in a year-long training program that will bring the narratives and events of this contested landscape to life – with a particular focus on the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. This training will include a series of blended courses, culminating with a work trip to Verdun, France in July 2014. This hands-on, highly interactive curriculum will be made available to schools and students in fall 2014 in time to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of World War I.
Among the teachers chosen to participate in this project are Katie Gulledge of McDougle Middle and Bill Melega of Chapel Hill High School. They were identified for their strong background in teaching and innovation, and we are thrilled that they will represent our school district on this international stage.
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